Waikato software specialist Company-X is backing the new Tech in the Tron initiative designed to grow the region’s tech sector by 500 skilled workers.

The Cultivate Trust, a collective of private businesses, education providers, and public entities who are enthusiastic about growing the Waikato technology ecosystem, is behind the initiative.

“Our goal is to relocate 500 skilled workers to technology companies in the Waikato,” said Cultivate Trust Chair and Soda Chief Executive Erin Wansbrough. “Not just in the core competencies but also talent necessary to support roles like communications, human relations, and marketing, wherever the jobs are.”

“Tech in the Tron is a brilliant initiative,” said Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes.

“Company-X is always looking for exceptional talent in the tech sector.”

Company-X is marking its tenth year of business with a recruitment drive to keep up with demand for the software development expertise offered to clients like Cisco Systems Inc, New Zealand Police, Local Government New Zealand and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency.

‘There’s a significant export sector in the Waikato,” added his fellow co-founder and director David Hallett.

“We need more tech talent to help the export sector grow. So, Tech in the Tron is more than just attracting tech talent.”

“That’s absolutely true, because it’s not just things we build to export, but all the other tech service sectors can actually optimise every part of our economy,” said The Gallagher Group Chief Executive Kahl Betham.

Gallagher Group Chief Executive Kahl Betham.
Gallagher Group Chief Executive Kahl Betham.

The Gallagher Group delivers innovative solutions for electric fencing, weighing and electronic ID (EID), access control, and perimeter security and is one of the Waikato’s top technology earners

“Whether people are getting into food chain optimisations, supply chain optimisations, government service efficiencies, medical system efficiencies, it doesn’t matter what it is, tech has the ability to optimise everything to make New Zealand more productive.”

Betham said attracting 500 new skilled workers would be easy, with Gallagher Group recruiting up to 150.

“We’re already growing exceptionally fast and we’re still planning on tripling the business in five years again, we’ve already nearly doubled it in two years.”

Exceptional growth, in spite of the pandemic.

“An exciting thing about the tech industry is it is counter cycling, so when things go badly the tech industry goes well,” Betham said.” The tech industry and innovation is a massively awesome antidote to inflation.”

“It’s possible with all the companies we have, provided all the different tech companies get together and get behind it and reap the benefits of talent flowing into the Waikato,” he said.

“We have everything from hi-tech manufacturing people, all the different disciplines in software and mechanical engineering and project management. You need marketing with that, logistics, international experiences, finance, the whole thing, so the whole organisation needs to grow at the same speed.”

The Gallagher Group pledged seed funding to help the Cultivate Trust launch.

“Right back at the beginning of the pandemic we’d been having some conversations with the city council, Te Waka and others about the opportunities for the tech industry in New Zealand,” Betham said.

“We were not really telling the story about Hamilton for the purpose of attracting talent and business to build up this really vibrant ecosystem we have here. Waikato is an awesome spot to headquarter yourself and take on the world.

“It is just great that we’re seeing a wonderful collaboration between many private organisations, local councils, economic development agencies and education. Only together can we really get this economy to the potential it deserves.”

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor

“Hamilton has a fantastic tech sector that is poised for exponential growth,” said Tompkins Wake corporate/commercial partner Phil Taylor.

He expected the Waikato tech sector to grow “a lot larger” than the 500 skilled worker target.

“The Cultivate Trust is a private sector led initiative for the benefit of the community.”

He was excited to see what initiatives follow Tech in the Tron.

Hamilton City Council Growth Group Economic Development Manager Mike Bennett is a Cultivate Trust trustee.

“Tech and innovation have been a rapidly growing part of Hamilton’s economy for many years, and it was time to showcase the unique ecosystem that supports it all,” Bennett, himself a migrant, said. Bennett emigrated to New Zealand from Chicago, USA, in 2018, to do his master’s degree at the University of Waikato, before joining Hamilton City Council in 2019.

“The Cultivate Trust felt the best way to do that was to tell authentic stories and shine a light directly on the people, businesses, and places that all contribute to making the Waikato a great place for tech - and so Tech in the Tron was created.